LeVar Burton, a TV and film star who hosted the beloved children’s program Reading Rainbow, says Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ decision to cease the publication of six books is a good one. They decided to drop the titles because of racist and insensitive images.
Burton spoke with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Wednesday and says the discontinuation of publishing books like And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street and If I Ran the Zoo is an opportunity for growth rather than an example of “cancel culture.”
“In the general sense, once you know better, it is incumbent on you to do better. And I think that is exactly what Seuss Enterprises is doing here,” Burton said. “They are being a responsible steward of the brand.”
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He also noted that the six books inquisition “really don’t fit with the values we’ve all come to know Dr. Seuss for.”
Having also played an iconic sci-fi character on Star Trek, Burton referenced the late creator of the series Gene Roddenberry in his further explanation.
“All of our heroes are human, they are all flawed,” he said. “It’s one of the things I learned from Gene Roddenberry, one of my storytelling mentors. Gene was a guy who had this great vision — but he also wanted all the women in short skirts.”
Burton continued: “America specifically, our xenophobia has crept into every aspect of our culture. And we have a tendency in this country to otherize everybody: Asians, Hispanics, Blacks. White normative culture has always been this way when it comes to the ‘other.’
“We have tremendously racist underpinnings in this country. And the sooner we make peace with it, come to terms with the fact that this is part of the fabric of America, only then, only then are we prepared to do anything about it; make lasting systemic change.”
The other four books include McElligot’s Pool, On Beyond Zebra!, Scrambled Eggs Super! and The Cat’s Quizzer.
Watch the full interview here.